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Sexual Battery

Battery means harmful or offensive contact with your body, without your consent. Battery is a crime. It is also a tort, meaning you can sue the wrongdoer in civil court for the harm they have caused. Sexual battery occurs when there is unwanted contact with your genitals, breasts, buttocks, or anus. It is a very serious crime. It is also a very serious tort, likely to result in substantial emotional harm.

It is up to your local District Attorney to decide whether to charge someone with a crime. If they are charged, they must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to be held accountable for their wrongdoing.

But it is up to you to decide whether to pursue a civil claim. You need only prove that the wrongdoer “more likely than not” committed a wrongful act, causing you harm. You can pursue a civil claim when the criminal justice system fails to act; or you can pursue one in addition to a criminal prosecution.

What Must I Prove to Prevail on a Sexual Battery Claim?

You must prove that the batterer had wrongful intent, and that you actually found the contact harmful or offensive. Specifically, you must demonstrate that the batterer “intended harmful or offensive contact” and that you suffered “sexually offensive contact.”

Example 1: On a crowded BART train, a man inadvertently brushes his elbow against a woman’s breasts. While the woman may have suffered sexually offensive contact from the encounter, the man did not intend to touch her at all, let alone cause harmful or sexually offensive contact. Unless she can establish such intent, the woman does not have a claim for sexual battery.

Example 2: A woman is jogging in a park. A man throws a water balloon at her buttocks and hits her. He laughs. Here, the man clearly intended to hit the woman somewhere on her body; whether or not he was aiming for her buttocks, he did intend some form of contact, and he should reasonably expect most strangers to feel harmed or offended when hit by a water balloon without their consent. Whatever his intent, the woman could reasonably find the contact to have been sexually offensive. It does not matter that the man did not touch the woman himself; he still caused her to have unwanted and offensive contact with the water balloon. It also doesn’t matter whether the man did this for his own sexual gratification. A sexual batterer may have any number of motivations. What matters is that his actions were intentional, and that the woman found them sexually offensive. This man can be held liable for sexual battery.

Example 3: A man and woman are on a date at the movies. Both enjoy the date, but both assume that the other person does not enjoy it. The woman is bored with the movie, and reaches over and touches the man’s crotch, for her own gratification. She thinks she is doing this without the man’s consent, but doesn’t care. Unbeknownst to her, the man hoped for this to happen and was not offended. The woman suddenly feels guilty and stops. They don’t discuss the matter, and they part ways at the end of the date. Although the woman acted with wrongful intent, the man did not find her actions sexually offensive. The man does not have a claim for sexual battery.

Nobody has the right to touch you without your consent. This is true even if you are on a date, in a committed relationship or marriage, or in the midst of consensual sexual activity. Sexual contact that exceeds the consent you have given is sexual battery, even if you have consented to other contact.

If you have suffered a sexual battery, call a compassionate attorney at Spencer Young Law today for a free and entirely confidential consultation.

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